I remember the first time I played baseball. It was in the 3rd grade. I was a foreigner, new to the American culture. I’d never seen a sport that involved a stick and a ball. I thought to myself, how cool is that. At that moment, I never thought that baseball would become one of my ultimate fears. At least, not until that ball hit me at what felt like the speed of race car.
I still remember the pain I felt as that ball hit me at full speed. I was overcome by the pain. This, ultimately, caused an overwhelming fear of baseball, that would haunt me for years to come. Since that day, and until about a month ago, I did everything I could to avoid baseball games, like the plague. In fact, my fear of getting hit again made me the least desirable player every time my friends “encouraged” me to play. I couldn’t hit the ball because I was sure it was going to hit me in the ribs as I tried to swing the bat. I couldn’t catch the ball because I was sure it was going to hit me in the face and give me a black eye. Every position I played over the years, I simply sucked at, because of my fear.
Then, I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t me. After all, what kind of a stupid sport was baseball anyway? Who would stand there and try to hit a round piece of cement coming at them at 100 mph? Not me, I wasn’t that dumb. I tried every excuse in the book to justify my fear of baseball. I was convinced that I would never play baseball again. And I was successful for a very long time. I could comfortably say that I had not played baseball for over a decade. And I liked it that way.
That all changed when the Dodgers had to go and make it to the 2017 world series! My son Julian, who somehow emerged from his mom’s womb as a professional athlete, suddenly became a huge Dodger fan. Despite the fact that he has been playing soccer since he was 5 years old, he suddenly developed a love for baseball. Man, does God have a sense of humor, or what? When I first heard Julian ask me to play baseball with him, I immediately went into panic mode. I tried to find the best excuse to avoid facing one of my biggest fears. Not only did I need a good excuse, I needed to get out of this dilemma without looking like a coward in the eyes of my 11 year old son. What would I do? How would I get out of this mess?
I immediately came up with the most painless solution to baseball I could think of… a nice, bright green tennis ball. Yup, I’m a genius! I, somehow, convinced my son that it would be to his benefit to play baseball with a tennis ball instead of that hard piece of rock that crazy people use. I felt, deep down inside, that he knew it was more for my benefit than his. But, he agreed. And, I had my victory. Well, at least until my wisdom kicked in.
I suddenly started thinking about what I was letting my fear do… not just to me, but also to my son. Because of an incident in my life that I allowed to haunt me, I was now going to pass my fear onto my son and instill my own weakness into him. How? By teaching him to fear a challenge that he has not yet even faced. Prior to us playing together a few weeks ago, Julian had never played real baseball; he had never been hit by a speeding ball; and he had not determined whether he would allow the fear of getting hit, or actually getting hit, to become a lifelong fear. In fact, knowing my son, he probably would take the hit like a man, laugh it off, and keep on playing. And I had no right to keep him from having his own experience and making his own conclusion.
So, today I decided to make a major change in my life. I decided to overcome an ultimate fear that I call the terrors of baseball. When Julian asked me to play catch with him this afternoon, I told him to get the real baseball, not the shiny green one that I had possibly convinced him was the better option. We went outside and I was prepared to take the hit… to overcome a big challenge in my life. I was prepared to let my son have his own experience rather than to adopt mine. I wanted him to draw his own conclusions, even if it meant that one of us would get hit by a baseball.
We played catch for over an hour. After the 5th pass, he threw the ball towards me at an angle. I tried to catch it, and sure enough, the ball bounced off of my glove and went smack into my nose. I felt the pain, remembered my fear, but I carried on. A few more throws later, the ball bounced off of Julian’s glove and hit him right in the cheekbone. Guess what? He rubbed his face for a few seconds, laughed at himself for letting the ball hit him, and carried on.
Two amazing things happened today. First, I finally overcame one of my biggest fears. I am no longer afraid of that round piece of cement coming at me because, even though it might hit me at some point or another, I know that I will never let that pain turn into fear again. Second, Julian had his own experience playing the sport with an actual baseball. And, as I predicted, he did not allow getting hit in the face to terrorize him for a lifetime like it had me. That’s what I call a grand slam!
If you have a fear that has been haunting you for a few days, or even a lifetime like my fear of baseball, the best way for you to overcome that fear is to face it head-on. You can’t allow fear to cheat you out of life or become the virus that infects the people you love. You’re greater than your fears and your potential far exceeds your circumstances®.
Need an accountability partner to help you overcome the fears and obstacles that are holding you back from your true potential? Roger Doumanian is a Certified Coach that helps individuals who want to grow personally and professionally. You can learn more about Roger at www.rogerdoumanian.com.
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